Such were the unexpected findings of University at Buffalo researchers while conducting basic research on potassium channels — totally unrelated to the drug’s anti-pain/inflammatory mechanism:
They found that low concentrations of the drug, corresponding to a standard prescription, reduced the heart rate and induced pronounced arrhythmia in fruit flies and the heart cells of rats.
The drug inhibited the normal passage of potassium ions into and out of heart cells through pores in the cell membrane known as delayed rectifier potassium channels, the study showed.
Satpal Singh, Ph.D. (associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and senior author on the study) explains:
“The adverse effects of drugs like Celebrex and Vioxx based on their selective inhibition of COX-2 currently are a topic of intense discussion in the medical community
We now have shown an important new effect of Celebrex through a totally different pathway, one that is unrelated to the drug’s effect as a pain reducer.
The adverse effect arising from this unexpected mechanism definitely needs to be studied more closely, because the potassium channels inhibited by the drug are present in heart, brain and many other tissues in the human body.
Could this be a sign that Celebrex is out to have the same fate as Vioxx? Nothing final yet, let’s just speculate and not jump into conclusions.
Find more details from Science Daily.